Item #8058 Emma. Jane Austen.

Emma. A Novel

London: Richard Bentley, 1836. Early Edition. Small octavo, early three-quarter dark blue morocco over marbled paper-covered boards, spine gilt.

"[H]andsome, clever, and rich..." First illustrated (and first one-volume) edition of Jane Austen’s Regency comedy of manners, about the headstrong Emma Woodhouse, whose overestimation of her matchmaking skills leads to complications in the lives of those around her. Considered by many her masterpiece, the novel was originally published in three volumes at Austen's own expense in 1815. Publishing impresario Richard Bentley, credited for affording Austen her posthumous literary fame, purchased the rights to all six of her novels in 1832 – they had remained out of print for years. He issued them in inexpensive reprints as part of his "Standard Novels" series (Emma is no. XXV in the series), with each title illustrated with a frontispiece and title-page vignette depicting scenes from the novel, drawn by Ferdinand Pickering and engraved by William Greatbatch. (Pickering’s illustrations famously presented Austen’s female characters in anachronistic Victorian wear, leading readers to misjudge her work.) The illustrations were reprinted into the 1890s and continued to exert influence on later depictions in US editions. This copy bears the original 1833 engraved title page, with a uniform title page for the Standard Novels series dated 1836, and an additional letterpress title page, also dated 1836. Bookplate of Stephen Glynne Williams, a baronet and member of the House of Commons; bookseller's stamp to upper pastedown. Occasional foxing and fingersoiling to text. Moderate rubbing and wear to spine, corners, and edges. Withall, a desirable copy of a sought-after classic. Item #8058


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